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Monthly Archives: June 2010



for over 20 years, photographer Phyllis Galembo has chronicled the costumes of West African countries with a portable studio…



“View from the Window at Le Gras (La cour du domaine du Gras)” taken with a camera obscura, is the world’s first photograph…


Long before the first public announcements of photographic processes in 1839, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, a scientifically-minded gentleman living on his country estate near Chalon-sur-Saône, France, began experimenting with photography. Fascinated with the craze for the newly-invented art of lithography which swept over France in 1813, he began his initial experiments by 1816. Unable to draw well, Niépce first placed engravings, made transparent, onto engraving stones or glass plates coated with a light-sensitive varnish of his own composition. These experiments, together with his application of the then-popular optical instrument, the camera obscura, would eventually lead him to the invention of the new medium.

In 1824 Niépce met with some degree of success in copying engravings, but it would be two years later before he had success utilizing pewter plates as the support medium for the process. By the summer of that year, 1826, Niépce was ready. In the window of his upper-story workroom at his Saint-Loup-de-Varennes country house, Le Gras, he set up a camera obscura, placed within it a polished pewter plate coated with bitumen of Judea (an asphalt derivative of petroleum), and uncapped the lens. After at least a day-long exposure of eight hours, the plate was removed and the latent image of the view from the window was rendered visible by washing it with a mixture of oil of lavender and white petroleum which dissolved away the parts of the bitumen which had not been hardened by light. The result was the permanent direct positive picture you see here—a one-of-a-kind photograph on pewter. It renders a view of the outbuildings, courtyard, trees and landscape as seen from that upstairs window.

listed by Life magazine as one of the “100 Photographs that Changed the World” it was exhibited in 1898 and then forgotten — in 1973, the University of Texas acquired the plate and it’s now on display at the Harry Ransom Research Center


the films of WILLIAM KLEIN…


Klein’s first feature — a film Stanley Kubrick described as ten years ahead of its time…

Kubrick saw Polly Magoo in his private screening room.  Then he wrote me a letter saying that the film was ten years ahead of its time, that he related to it very strongly, and that he felt we had a great deal in common.  I was very pleased by this letter.  I was just getting ready to do “Mr. Freedom”, and I wrote back immediately, saying that I was trying to raise money for my new film.  And never got an answer!

— William Klein 1988

“WHO ARE YOU POLLY MAGOO?” 1966 directed by William Klein

once impossible to find, now part of Criterion’s box set “The Delirious Fictions of William Klein” along with “Mr. Freedom” and “The Model Couple”…

(quote excerpted from a conversation with Johnathan Rosenbaum, “Cinema Outsider: The Films of William Klein”, Walker Art Center 1989)


one of the best documentaries you’ll ever see…


Trailing a platoon of U.S. Army soldiers in Afghanistan, “Restrepo” is a nerve-jangling work of “you are there” combat correspondence. It’s also being pitched as the first apolitical war documentary of the post–9/11 era. Named for the platoon’s fallen medic, and for the outpost that the soldiers erect in his memory, Restrepo adopts the grunt’s p.o.v. through battle and boredom alike, eliciting sympathy for young American men fighting — and sometimes dying — half a world away from home.

If that tack sounds, well, political, the filmmakers — Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington, veteran war correspondents who repeatedly risked their own lives for the movie — would much prefer to call it something else.

“Left-wing people — and I include myself among those people — tend to have this idea that war is the expression of some kind of modern ill, of civilization gone wrong,” says Junger by phone from Houston, where he’s promoting his book WAR, the film’s companion piece. “But the politically incorrect truth is that war is extremely ingrained in us — in our evolution as humans — and we’re hardwired for it. I think our movie communicates that in some ways.”

It’s no wonder that Restrepo, which opens this week, is being distributed by National Geographic. The film plays like a documentary study of the human animal in his natural state — war being how homo sapiens display the survival-of-the-fittest principle that’s also central to other species.

“The most important thing for us was to make an honest film,” says Hetherington from his Brooklyn apartment. “After many years of war reporting, we’d both gotten to the point of wanting to see people in war not as symbols or illustrations but as people. Often, war reporters gloss over things. Sebastian talks about that in his book, about how reporters try to deny the excitement of war, when the fact is that war is exciting. We thought, ‘Let’s just show what’s going on out there and not editorialize.’ ”

Restrepo eschews voice-over narration and keeps intertitles to a minimum, but it’s not exactly cinema vérité. When the soldiers fly by helicopter into the Korengal Valley — known among grunts as the “Valley of Death” — there’s Afghani music on the sound track. (Welcome to hell, boys.) When the survivors of the platoon finally leave the Korengal, some 15 months later, to recuperate in Italy, they’re interviewed by the filmmakers, whose point-blank shooting catches the men’s every twitch and hollow stare.

Restrepo alternates between the traumatic and the posttraumatic, so we’re reassured throughout that at least some of the soldiers will survive. Nevertheless, the film imparts a stressful experience, in part for our having gotten to know — and quite possibly like — the men. Gentle, baby-faced Pemble grew up the son of a “fuckin’ hippie” who once took his squirt gun away. Cortez reports with a curious smile that sleeping pills don’t help his insomnia or his nightmares. After a firefight with the Taliban, a bulky shooter named Steiner says, “That was fun. You can’t get a better high. It’s like crack.”

Junger, whose dozen years of death-defying journalism in Afghanistan have made him no stranger to adrenaline, says that an even stronger narcotic for Steiner and his platoon buddies is the buzz of social inclusion. “For a 19-year-old to feel necessary as part of a small group of men, to have a completely clear identity and a reciprocal duty to those around him, that’s intoxicating: ‘I’m one of the two 40-gunners on weapons squad, and my job is to shoot.’ When a young guy builds his identity around that, and then comes home, where he’s just another 19-year-old, why would some part of him not want to go back into combat? That’s where he was functioning at his highest level, where he had the clearest understanding of who he was.”

Do the filmmakers feel similarly actualized when they’re on the battlefield? “You can put me in a really difficult situation, and I will make good images for you,” says Hetherington, a photojournalist who “got into the business of conflict” in 1999, when he was sent to cover the civil war in Liberia, and has mostly remained in the theater of operations ever since. “It’s a weird skill set that I’ve mastered,” he says. “I make images under pressure.”

“My first war was Bosnia,” recalls Junger. “I was a failing freelance writer and waiter. I was 31 and felt like I wasn’t going anywhere. I wanted to prove myself in some ways. War is often seen as a rite of passage by young men. There was that appeal. When I got to Bosnia, the work was completely intoxicating. It’s very intense to be covering combat, and I definitely feed off that intensity.

“In Bosnia, I was beside myself. I couldn’t believe that I was in this role of communicating to the rest of the world something of great urgency that was going on around me. It’s important work, and I’m stunned and delighted that I’m good at it. It’s nourishing to me.”

Like the band of brothers they filmed, Junger and Hetherington had mixed feelings when their own tour of duty finally came to an end: “After being elbow-deep in editing for most of a year, it was exhilarating to finish the movie,” Junger reports. “But at the same time, there was an incredible sense of loss.”

(LA WEEKLY  6.24.10)

find the entire review here

“RESTREPO” 2010 directed by Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington

the world’s highest tennis court…

the photo’s real, the grass is not…

that’s Andre Agassi and Rodger Federer high above Dubai at the hotel Burj Al Arab on the world’s highest tennis court…

at almost 700 feet who’s could concentrate on a game..?

check out the video — at about 4:30 they start firing firing balls off at the unfortunates below…

meanwhile, “Real Tennis” — the game from which all racquet sports evolved — dates back to the Renaissance and is much more down to Earth…

played on an asymmetrical 90′ x 40′ court, the scoring is similar to tennis — but Real Tennis uses a cork-based ball, way less bouncy than a modern tennis ball, and a very stiff racquet with an angled head… only 47 courts still exist — in the U.K., Australia, the U.S., and France — all of them at ground level…



according to billionaire entrepreneur Robert Sillerman — who four years ago spent 100 million bucks on the lion’s share of Elvis Presley’s estate — the BBC reported in 2002 that IRS information indicates 84,000 people in the U.S. claim “Elvis impersonating” as their job…

in other 84k news…

The Republic of Seychelles is an island country 932 miles east of mainland Africa with a population of 84,000, the smallest of any African state…  (WIKIPEDIA)

The National Statistics Office will engage the services of 84,000 additional personnel to help in the conduct of the 2010 Census… (BUSINESS MIRROR 5.16.10)

The Wyoming Dept. of Environmental Quality says cleanup continues after a pipeline break caused 84,000 gallons of crude oil to spill in the Bridger Valley…  (BILLINGS GAZETTE 4.25.10)

The White House says President Obama’s stimulus bill was responsible for 84,000 jobs during the first quarter of 2010…  (STAR NEWS 4.16.10)

On July 25, Singapore will host its largest synchronized mass-walking event, which will involve 84,000 residents…  (ASIAONE NEWS 4.5.10)

The Australian Crime Commission has released figures showing police arrested 84,000 people in relation to illegal drugs last year…  (ABC NEWS 1.8.10)

Companies in the U.S. cut 84,000 jobs in December, according to data compiled in the ADP National Employment Report…  (BLOOMBERG 1.6.10)

Last week 84,000 new cases of the swine flu virus were reported, as experts predicted another spike as the weather gets colder…  (THE TIMES 11.10.09)

Britain’s government confirmed that it lost a digital memory device containing information on 84,000 prisoners, every inmate in England…  (MSNBC 8.22.08)

the “84,000 Buddhas” at the Ichibata-Yakushi temple in Japan, represent the 84,000 ideas which pollute the mind and body…

life in the Anthropocene…

remember when you could find a parking space, no problem, or get a sun-tan and not worry..?  well, now, as the world goes bankrupt, 95 year old scientist Frank Fenner — AC, CMG, MBE, FRS, FAA, and the  man who eradicated smallpox — says it doesn’t matter, the human race will be extinct in a hundred years anyway…


Professor Frank Fenner, emeritus professor of microbiology at the Australian National University, has warned that the human race can not survive. As the scientist who helped eradicate smallpox he certainly know a thing or two about extinction. And now he predicts the human race will be extinct within the next 100 years, unable to survive a population explosion and “unbridled consumption.” “Homo sapiens will become extinct, perhaps within 100 years” Fenner said. “A lot of other animals will too. It’s an irreversible situation. I think it’s too late. I try not to express that because people are trying to do something, but they keep putting it off.”

Since humans entered an unofficial scientific period known as the Anthropocene – the time since industrialisation – we have had an effect on the planet that rivals any ice age or comet impact. Last year official UN figures estimated that the world’s population is currently 6.8 billion. It is predicted to exceed seven billion by the end of 2011. Fenner blames the onset of climate change for the human race’s imminent demise. “We’ll undergo the same fate as the people on Easter Island” he said. “Climate change is just at the very beginning. But we’re seeing remarkable changes in the weather already. The Aborigines showed that without science and the production of carbon dioxide and global warming, they could survive for 40,000 or 50,000 years. But the world can’t. The human species is likely to go the same way as many of the species that we’ve seen disappear.”

Professor Fenner’s chilling prediction echoes recent comments by Prince Charles who last week warned of “monumental problems” if the world’s population continues to grow at such a rapid pace. And it comes after Professor Nicholas Boyle of Cambridge University said that a “doomsday” moment will take place in 2014 – and will determine whether the 21st century is full of violence and poverty or will be peaceful and prosperous. “In the last 500 years there has been a cataclysmic ‘Great Event’ of international significance at the start of each century” he claimed.

Retired professor Stephen Boyden, a colleague of Professor Fenner, said that while there was deep pessimism among some ecologists, others had a more optimistic view. “Frank may well be right, but some of us still harbour the hope that there will come about an awareness of the situation and, as a result the revolutionary changes necessary to achieve ecological sustainability.” Another esteemed academic, Professor James Lovelock, warned that the world’s population may sink as low as 500 million over the next century due to global warming. He claimed that any attempts to tackle climate change will not be able to solve the problem, merely buy us time.

(DAILY MAIL  6.19.10)

this only means more room for space people


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